‘A big moment’: Phil Neville previews Man United v Man City

Phil Neville reckons the Manchester derby represents a "big moment" in Manchester United's season

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Photo: Sky Sports)

Phil Neville reckons Manchester United’s Champions League exit isn’t a disaster, adding that the Manchester derby represents a big moment for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side in the 2020-21 season.

The Red Devils suffered a 3-2 loss to Bundesliga side RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Tuesday night to make a premature exit from the competition despite beating the German side and Paris Saint-Germain in their opening two games.

Manchester United only needed a point at RB Leipzig to avoid elimination from the Champions League but the 20-time English champions were punished for a poor start to their crunch clash in Germany on Tuesday evening.

Solskjaer’s side have been relegated to the Europa League as Manchester United look to win Europe’s second tier competition for the first time since 2017, when the Norwegian head coach’s predecessor Jose Mourinho was in charge.

Manchester United have won their last four Premier League games to build some positive momentum thanks to victories over Everton, West Bromwich Albion, Southampton and West Ham.

The Red Devils are in sixth position in the Premier League table and five points adrift of leaders Tottenham Hotspur, having played one game less most of their rivals.

Manchester City are in seventh position in the Premier League table and a point behind Manchester United ahead of the derby.

BBC Sport pundit Neville reckons Solskjaer’s men can put a positive spin on their Champions League exit if Manchester United make the most of their big moment in the Manchester derby.

“There’s an awful narrative where the minute United lose a game it seems like a disaster,” Neville told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“It’s not a disaster tonight, but it’s disappointing. United wanted to be in the last 16.

“There are Manchester United teams in the past with better managers than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, like Sir Alex Ferguson, which have gone out at this stage. It does happen, it has happened.

“It’s quite a freakish time at the moment. There are managers in the Premier League who are below United in the league but have great reputations and don’t get the stick Solskjaer gets.

“If United win on Saturday, and Ole’s teams tend to do well in big moments, I think Saturday is a big moment for the manager and for the players.

“They played poorly in the first 30 minutes, they got punished in a group which was really really difficult and they’re out of the competition.

“They’re now in the Europa League, they’ve got to go out and win that.

“The narrative from inside the club is far, far different to that outside the club, where it seems there’s a total witch-hunt to get this boy out of the job.”

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